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In June 2004, Catholics for a Free Choice commissioned a survey of Catholic voters from Belden Russonello & Stewart. The survey included 2,239 Catholics who are likely voters, including an oversample of Hispanic Catholics (366 total Hispanics). Detailed below are findings on where Independent Catholics stand on social issues and the 2004 Election.

Who are Independent Catholics?

Independent Catholics are more likely to be male (54%), and 63% are under the age of 50. Ninety-one percent report being born in the United States; 85% are white, 10% are Hispanic/Latino, and 3% are Asian or Pacific Islander. Sixty-four percent are married. Independent Catholics are more apt to live in the Northeast (32%) and the Midwest (28%) than the South (24%) and West (22%). Independent Catholics are a close match for all Catholics in income and education. Fifty-two percent earn more than $50,000 annually (all Catholics: 51%), and Independent Catholics are on par with all Catholics in making more than $75,000 (28%). They parallel all Catholics as 35% have a 4-year college or advanced degree (all Catholics: 37%), while 28% of both Independents and all Catholics have a high school education or less.

Less than a third of Independent Catholics are politically active; 27% have volunteered for, donated to, or contacted a political official or candidate. More than half (57%) favor giving economic assistance to other countries.

Thirty-seven percent of Independent Catholics attend Mass at least once a week (all Catholics: 39%); 49% report going to church a few times a year and 13% never go to church. Among all Catholics, 36% attend Mass a few times a year and 11% never go to church.

Independent Catholics and Abortion
The majority of Independent Catholics call themselves “prochoice” rather than “prolife,” and a majority believes that abortion should be legal

Do you generally think of yourself as prolife or prochoice on abortion?

  Prolife Prochoice
All Catholics 45% 53%
Independents 43% 54%
Republicans 61% 37%
Democrats 32% 67%

Do you agree or disagree that it should be legal for a woman to have an abortion?

  Agree Disagree
All Catholics 61% 38%
Independents 66% 33%
Republicans 47% 53%
Democrats 73% 26%


Independent Catholics and Stem Cell Research
Catholics of all political affiliations support stem cell research.

Do you support or oppose allowing scientists to use stem cells obtained from very early human embryos to find cures for diseases such as Alzheimer’s, diabetes, and Parkinson’s?

  Support Oppose
All Catholics 72% 26%
Independents 73% 26%
Republicans 66% 23%
Democrats 79% 20%


Independent Catholics and Tax Cuts
Catholics of all political affiliations support canceling some of the federal tax cuts and using the money to shore up social services.

Do you support or oppose canceling some of the federal tax cuts and using the money to protect Social Security and improve Medicare? To improve public education?

  To protect Social Security and improve Medicare? To improve public education?
  Support Oppose Support Oppose
All Catholics 74% 26% 68% 31%
Independents 80% 20% 85% 15%
Republicans 55% 45% 51% 49%
Democrats 89% 11% 70% 29%

Independent Catholics and Presidential Choice
In June 2004, the total Catholic vote was divided evenly between President George Bush and Senator John Kerry. Both candidates enjoyed a large margin of partisan support. Independent voters were split between the two candidates, and 30% remained undecided.

If the presidential election were held today, would you vote for the Republican President George W. Bush, the Democrat John Kerry, or are you undecided?

  Bush Kerry Undecided
All Catholics 40% 40% 18%
Independents 31% 35% 30%
Republicans 80% 10% 10%
Democrats 8% 76% 15%

Independent Catholics, Bishops and Communion
Six percent of Independent Catholics report that the bishops’ views are “very important” in determining who to vote for, while 76% say they are “not very” or “not at all important.” Catholics of all political affiliations do not believe that there is a religious obligation for either Catholic voters or politicians to vote a certain way, nor do the majority of all subgroups think bishops should deny communion to prochoice Catholics or prochoice Catholic politicians.

Do you believe voters who are Catholic have a religious obligation to vote against candidates who support legal abortion? Do you believe politicians who are Catholic have a religious obligation to vote on issues the way Catholic bishops recommend?

  Religious obligation for voters? Religious obligation for politicians?
  Yes No Yes No
All Catholics 24% 74% 16% 83%
Independents 12% 87% 13% 86%
Republicans 39% 58% 24% 74%
Democrats 20% 78% 9% 90%


Do you approve or disapprove of Catholic bishops denying communion to Catholics who support abortion? To politicians who are Catholic and support legal abortion?

  Catholics Catholic Politicians
  Approve Disapprove Approve Disapprove
All Catholics 22% 76% 20% 78%
Independents 18% 79% 15% 83%
Republicans 37% 60% 34% 63%
Democrats 10% 89% 9% 90%


For more information, visit; or contact the Public Policy department at Catholics for a Free Choice, (202) 986 6093; or email

Catholics for a Free Choice is a non-partisan organization. We do not support or oppose candidates for public office. The poll is an educational tool whose sole purpose is to educate opinion leaders about Catholic attitudes toward social and policy issues.

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